If you feel like your style needs to be developed, or you feel stuck in your creative pursuits – this article is for you. These thoughts can mean you’re simply in an evaluating stage or you’re going through a photographer’s block. You need a getaway – the freedom to explore and create.
Today’s article is exactly that – a way to explore without necessarily leaving home. In search for answers, you might be surprised at what you’ll find out about yourself. Even in the midst of chaos and a general feeling of a lack of creativity, you can nourish your talents and maybe bring out the things that make your photography your own. It is in this journey that you might just find what you’ve been looking for.
Start small and nurture a positive attitude.
1. Keep an ideas notebook
This is a place where you can jot down your ideas, thoughts and keep track of things that interest you. Let it be a place for a stream of conscience, an irreplaceable friend and a tool of communication between you and your inner artist.
If you make this into a bait, with time, you will start seeing patterns in the things that interest you and things that define your style. It might be recurring themes or just topics that you keep going back to. Even these details can become a pivotal point your your creativity.
You don’t have to be a writer to take this up as a habit. Getting your thoughts out and on paper is a great way to clear your mind but also document your creative process. How you use your ideas notebook is entirely up to you.
2. Research and find inspiration online
Spend a day in bed doing nothing but looking for inspiration. You may find it in the most unexpected places, so never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You need to find fellow photographer role models, people you look up to and styles that intrigue.
We’re fortunate to have the world available to us at the tips of our fingers. Get cozy with a laptop and look at some websites for creative inspiration. Check out photography projects on fromupnorth, designyoutrust and inspirationhut. Your searches for inspiration can take you to the research phase which is an excellent way to busy yourself productively.
3. Compiling your research
Keep a hub of inspirational materials to turn to. Save the images you like in an inspiration folder on your computer. You will be surprised how your tastes change over time and the things that images will inspire you to create.
As you’re searching for inspiration, use Pinterest to collect your inspiration in one place. You can also save the images you like and keep them in separate folders according to the genres that interest you. Unless of course you’re sick at the sight of your computer. In that case, proceed as follows:
4. Trust the cinema
We recently did a cover on 10 movies every photographer must watch and 10 documentaries for photography enthusiasts. Make your way down the list and devote time to simply submersing yourself in the lives of other photographers, who have gone through the struggles you’re going through.
Whatever you do, don’t mull over your photographer’s block. Trust other sources to help you get through the rut. Movies and documentaries are as good a starting place as any. You need to take action. Even doing something small, like watching one movie could give you that extra push that you need.
5. Travel near and far
For some people, travels mean packing your things and traveling halfway across the world to unknown lands that don’t remind you of home. But listen, you don’t have to travel far to get inspired.
If you ever find yourself backed into a corner, pack your bags and go somewhere – anywhere. Even if it’s a nearby town. Travels need not bring a radical change, you simply need a change of scenery and an opportunity to go somewhere visually stimulating and new.
New places inspire new ideas and this is especially true with photography. For every artist, travels are limitless sources of inspiration. When you’re in a new place, you get a fresh perspective and step out of your comfort zone. This will help you tremendously in your search for inspiration.
6. The art of tidying up
Where you live is important to your inner state. Since you’re not creating, focus your energy on creating the perfect environment. Clean up your apartment, your desk and your clothes. You might find it therapeutic. It’s also a good way to distract yourself from your thoughts.
Not to say that you should renovate, but there are little things you can do to improve your living environment. What is your ideal work environment? What will make you more productive? Think about these things as you clean the place spotless unlike the usual ‘cleaning’ sessions you have:
7. Force yourself out of your comfort zone
Every photographer has a niche they work in. My piece of advice is break out of it. It’s easy to get lost when all you think about is what you’re good at. Arrange photoshoots that are not particular to your specialty.
New projects and new genres will require your skills. You will begin to see emerging patterns and in this realization, you will edge closer to finding your personal style. Expand your horizons and give it your best. Are you a lifestyle photographer? Why don’t you try night time and astrophotography?
8. Get inspired by places (don’t forget nature)
Visit galleries, exhibitions and museums near you. You never know when the next wave of creativity will hit you. Sometimes even the most unexpected projects can provoke a stream of new ideas. In finding your inspiration, you will find yourself pursuing what you do best – seeing the world from your perspective.
The other half of the spectrum is to go back to nature. In the silence and presence of nature, one can’t help but appreciate the little things in life. Go somewhere isolated, look for answers and inspiration in the beauty that surrounds you.
9. Break your daily routine
Often times we get weighed down by the kind of lifestyle we’ve built for ourselves. Doing things differently forces us to think, reflect and will ultimately guide you to higher creativity. Start your day with an unusual task. Go for a walk or a run, spend time with your pets or go for a morning coffee somewhere.
Some people find a change of environment stimulating because you feel the need to be more productive. Take your laptop and treat yourself to breakfast/lunch/dinner. Don’t mind the people, they’re not there to judge you. When you’re trying to break out of a creative block, you simply must try everything in the book.
10. Post production fun
Now, the last thing you probably want is to look back at your old work. This might not be a bad idea though. Revisit old projects and spend time in the post production stage. You might not be taking pictures, but you can be perfecting old works.
11. Go back to basics
Pick up an analogue camera and hit the streets. Go to the nearest town and photograph what you see. The beauty of analogue photography is that you have to think on your feet, there is no room for improvement. You eliminate so many factors when shooting on film.
Shooting analogue is also exciting because you can develop your own photos and the process might just inspire you to keep this as a side hobby. When in doubt, go back to the basics. Treat yourself and maybe get an instant camera!
My last words of wisdom are this: nurture your own creativity and do it for yourself, not for anyone else. Have faith in your vision and power through this block. You can try some or all of the things on this list but just remember that this is a temporary stage and that you’re about to embark on a new journey. It is one that will liberate you and lead to paths of higher creativity.